Let’s play! The MR escape room
Stefano Mandija1,2, Tim Schakel1,2, and Rob H.N. Tijssen1,2

1University Medical Center Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands, 2Utrecht University, Utrecht, Netherlands


To create an innovative teaching method that engages students new to MR. The MR Escape room is a fun game that tests the (newly acquired) knowledge of students, while doubling as a team building exercise.


Like many institutions, we are offering annual courses for new PhD students, MR radiographers, and other hospital and research staff. Our MRI courses usually consist of several days of taught lectures, covering various topics like MR physics, best clinical practice, and safety. Due to the dense information load, students often struggle to keep being motivated and focused. The MR escape room was developed to break the routine of power-point lectures by offering students a unique and fun way to put some of the theory directly into practice. An escape room is a popular puzzle game, in which the players are “locked up” in a room. They players have to work as a team to find the concealed clues and solve the puzzles to unveil the secret and win the game. The MR Escape Room thus offers an informal way to test the just acquired MR knowledge and has shown to be a very effective team building exercise!

Materials and Methods

Our MR Escape room consists in 8 puzzles that are hidden throughout the different rooms of the MR facility (Figs. 1,2,3,4). The puzzles and clues build up to a final puzzle (Puzzle #8, Fig.4), which can only be solved by scanning a special decoding phantom that holds the key to dismantle a “ticking time bomb”. However, the key can only be decoded when the correct scan parameters are used. Each team has 45 minutes to solve all puzzles and prevent the bomb from exploding!

One MR specialist is needed to supervise the whole escape room, thus ensuring safety and giving additional hints if really needed. Only the MR specialist is allowed to scan, but, to comply with the didactic scope of the game, he/she strictly follows the indications provided by the students.

All the materials needed to build up each puzzle of this escape room are reported in the figures.

The 8 puzzles are respectively: find the hints, multiple choice questionnaire, air (no helium) balloons, playing cards, MRI handbooks, SNOTEs [1], quantitative MRI, MRI decoding sequence.

Additionally, MRI screening and MR safety are tested at the start of the escape room game.

Results and Discussion

Up to now, the escape room has been entered by 5 different groups. Only three groups have managed to solve all the puzzles in time to dismantle the bomb. The best performing group had 9 minutes 11 seconds left on the clock. Our highly scientific assessment of the Escape Room is determined by participant reporting: all the participants found it a joyful experience and a good method to informally test their newly learned MRI knowledge under stress (ticking bomb).

The difficulty of the escape room can be tailored to the group of participants under test by modifying the multiple choice questionnaire, the quantitative MRI test, and the final MRI decoding sequence test.

All the problems in answering the MRI questions and errors done during the escape room, in particular concerning safety, are discussed at the end of the tests.


An MR escape room has been designed for the first time. We (Fig. 5) believe that this is a good opportunity to preliminary test in a joyful atmosphere the newly acquired MR knowledge by PhD students, MR radiographers, technologists and radiation therapists during the numerous MR courses held at our institution. In particular, basic MR theory, clinical practice and safety are tested.


Tim Schakel and Stefano Mandija share the first authorship.


[1] www.snote.com


Figure 1: The story of Dr. Proton and the map of the MRI facility.

Figure 2: The first two puzzles to be solved in the preparation room.

Figure 3: Other 5 puzzles to be solved in the Console room. With the information collected until now, the last puzzle can be tackled.

Figure 4: The last puzzle. The answer to this puzzle allows the students to open the box containing the ticking bomb and save the MR from a catastrophic quench.

Figure 5: MRI escape room design in action.

Proc. Intl. Soc. Mag. Reson. Med. 27 (2019)